Sandee Lou (Strand) Kerr

image of Sandee Lou Kerr

Sandee Lou Kerr

Born June 28, 1938, Sandee grew up in Spokane with a brief hiatus to Seattle during World War II while her father worked at Boeing. She often fondly recalled the fact that her Strand grandparents lived across the street from her elementary school so she enjoyed having a Swedish lunch with them every day.

Sandee began dancing with the Silver Spurs, an internationally known dance troupe, when she was in the fifth grade and was chosen for the exhibition set two years later.  She traveled with Silver Spurs for four national tours and helped design many of their costumes. It was a source of great pride throughout her life and she maintained lifelong friendships and attended countless Silver Spur reunions even in her 80s.

She attended Libby Junior High School where she was the editor of the school newspaper, drum majorette, member of the pep club, and a piano accompanist for the choral groups.  In 1956, she graduated valedictorian of North Central High School where she was active in many school organizations including Red Feathers Art Club, feature editor of the North Central News and student director of the Doll Shop (the all school drama dance music production). She was named Outstanding Junior Citizen by the Spokane Chamber of Commerce. In 1960, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Home Economics Education from Washington State University. She went on to earn a Master’s Degree from the University of Washington where she discovered “her career” in theatrical costume design and construction which was the perfect niche to utilize her background in art, home economics and years on stage as a dancer.  She worked as a professional designer for Seattle Repertory Theater, ACT, Old Globe Shakespeare Theatre in San Diego, Phoenix Little Theater, Seattle University, Olympic College as well as the University of Washington.

Life highlights she was fond of recalling were her work with the Seattle World’s Fair, having the opportunity to interview Elvis Presley for the Spokane Press Corps, and costuming famous actors like Buddy Ebsen, John Voight, Richard Chamberlain, and Margaret Hamilton.

In 1967, she met and married Thomas James Kerr from Belmont Massachusetts and they lived in Seattle, Washington and Scottsdale, Arizona before settling in Newport Beach, California to raise their two daughters: d’Layne Loree and Sharlyn L’Rae (names that she created or morphed to honor special people in her life, namely her sister, Aunt Charlotte, and father Earl).

Her daughters remember her creativity in her involvement with their schools, Children’s Home Society and Newport Harbor Children’s Theater Guild. She was the decorations chairman for the school carnival which entailed drawing and painting 30+ life-size figures for each carnival with themes such as “Snoopy’s Pumpkin Patch,” “Star Wars,” and “Ghoulies, ghosties and beasties.”  For many years, they were stored alongside costumes sets and bicycles so that no cars fit in her three car garage. She was a dedicated member of Children’s Home Society serving as President, Vice President, Debutante Ball Chairman, Recording Secretary, Public Relations, among other volunteer positions.   She also volunteered many hours with the PTO and worked as a teacher’s aide at Harbor View Elementary School. After her kids graduated high school, she explored catering and food preparation for a number of different organizations including the Anaheim Convention Center.  A gregarious personality, Sandee could make conversation anywhere and had an infectious and hearty laugh that was readily shared with anyone she came into contact with.

Throughout her life, Sandee maintained that her first and best friend was her sister, Loree with whom she would laugh, confide, and enjoy a wide variety of adventures. After her daughters moved out of the house, she moved back to Seattle to live with Loree and their father during the last few years of his life. There she became actively involved with Highland Covenant Church volunteering to decorate for the Bridge Ministries monthly luncheons.  She carefully developed themes and meticulously created decorations out of all sorts of materials.  Costume was always part of her life and she would daily dress according to theme and/or whim to amuse herself as well as entertain others.  She took great joy in sharing her creative ideas and experiences: be they in food, clothing, or decorations. Sandee was a collector.  Collecting experiences. Collecting memories.  Above all…collecting things for which she could creatively find new purpose.  Old toilet paper rolls and plastic newspaper bags became colorful flowery centerpieces adorning a special occasion table.

Sandee defied many odds throughout her life, one of which was living with stage 4 ovarian cancer for 11 years.  “I just keep a positive attitude and keep on going.”  The disease ultimately claimed her body, but she liked to emphasize that it never conquered her unending spirit.   She will be fondly remembered for her creativity, can-do attitude, vivacious laughter, willingness to make something wonderful out of what others might see as trash, ability to put anyone in a costume, and all-around spunk and zest for life.

Known as MorMor (Swedish for “Mother’s mother”) to her 5 grandchildren, she was proud of their many accomplishments and activities.  As her teenage granddaughters tried on her various “opening night ball gowns,” she took great pride in seeing creations she saved adorn her prodigy.  Never having sons of her own, Sandee loved being silly with her two young grandsons and lamented living so far away.

A celebration of life will be held Saturday, November 30th 2019 at 2 pm at Highland Covenant Church, 15022 NE Bel-Red Road, Bellevue, WA  98007.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in her honor to support the work of Bridge Ministries serving the needs of people living with disabilities and her faith community at Highland Covenant Church.  The family has established a Memorial GoFundMe site to facilitate this at https://www.gofundme.com

She is survived by her two children (d’Layne Kerr-Layton and Sharlyn Elliott), five grandchildren (Halea L’Rae, Liana Jenae, & Solani Jada Kerr-Layton and Kayden James and Attison James Elliott), sister (Loree Kay Pickett), husband (Thomas James Kerr), and countless friends.

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